With the New Jersey Devils in Los Angeles tonight to take on the Kings, beat writer Tom Gulitti caught up with former Devils star Scott Niedermayer, who was at the Staples Center filming a piece for his jersey retirement ceremony. On Dec. 16, the Devils will raise Niedermayer’s No. 27 to the rafters, the third number ever retired by the club (the others are Scott Stevens’ No. 4 and Ken Danekyo’s No. 3.)
On the topic of post-retirement honors, Niedermayer made one thing clear. If — okay, when — he goes to the Hockey Hall of Fame, he wants to do it as a New Jersey Devil.
“That’s where I played the bulk of my career,” Niedermayer told the Fire & Ice blog. “That’s where I learned a lot and grew as a young professional player and was able to use that later on in my career to maybe have more success. And I guess maybe as time goes by, that (feeling for being a Devil) might become stronger.
“The fact that I played out here (in California) and retire right from the Ducks, that’s sort of your recent memories and that’s sort of where you feel a part of that team. But, as time passes and you look back and the length of time that I was in New Jersey compared to the length of time I was out here, I’m comfortable saying that (he’s a Devil).”
Niedermayer played for New Jersey from 1992-2004 — winning three Stanley Cups and his lone Norris trophy — so being enshrined as a Devil is almost an afterthought. But considering the profound effect he had on the Anaheim organization upon signing there in 2005, going in as a Duck is somewhat viable. Niedermayer won a Cup and a Conn Smythe trophy with the Ducks and recorded his highest ever single-season point total (69). He also won the Cup in Anaheim with his brother, Rob, and still works as a consultant for the club.
All that said, Niedermayer will go to the HHOF as a Devil. He’s up for eligibility in 2012 in what promises to be an outstanding field — first-time eligible players include Joe Sakic, Jeremy Roenick, Mats Sundin and Brendan Shanahan.
This has been a tough postseason for Phil Kessel haters.
The supposed “choker” is on a team that’s in the Eastern Conference Final, but Kessel obviously isn’t just in for the ride with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored his 18th point in 17 postseason games by scoring the 1-0 goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6.
(Watch that goal in the video above.)
It was a dramatic first period, with a Jonathan Drouin goal getting disallowed and Andrei Vasilevskiy making some huge saves on tough chances.
Can Pittsburgh protect this slim lead with 1-0 down one period? We’ll see, but either way, what a great postseason for Kessel.
To start the seemingly pivotal stretch, Andrei Vasilevskiy made an outstanding save on Evgeni Malkin on what sure looked like a scary chance.
The play swiftly shifted from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s end to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ side of the ice, and it seemed like Jonathan Drouin scored a big 1-0 goal in Game 6.
As it turns out, the goal was disallowed thanks to an offside goal review.
Here are a few viewpoints on that moment in GIF form … you can get a fuller view via the video above.
The general feeling among those who don’t have a horse in the race is that it was the right call. (Lightning fans were, uh, not happy.)
At some point, it will probably be kind of boring to hear members of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization praise Jonathan Drouin.
At least if Drouin re-signs with the Bolts after quite the affirming postseason and his ascension amid injuries.
These days? It’s still sort of entertaining.
In the latest case, Jon Cooper was asked to compare the development paths for Nikita Kucherov vs. Drouin. After empathizing with the pressure Drouin carries as a high-end pick (vs. Kucherov’s ability to come in under the radar), Cooper had some very positive things to say about No. 27.
” … So many people think, well, you’re just going to step in the league at 18 and be dominant,” Cooper said. “I truly believe Jonathan is going to be dominant in this league, but it’s hard to do at 18. He had to work through it, and that’s it.”
Drouin, now at 21, has 12 points in 15 playoff games.
In other Lightning news, it sounds like the team will roll with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, an alignment that has been working well lately and also came through at times during the 2015 postseason.
The Penguins, meanwhile, replace Beau Bennett with Conor Sheary.
Tonight could be the final game of the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning. You can catch Game 6 via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.
Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay (8:00 p.m. ET)
The television broadcast of Game 6 is on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here. The Bolts lead the series 3-2.
Here’s some relevant reading material to get you ready for tonight’s game:
—Malkin guaranteed a Penguins win in Game 6
—Lightning coach doesn’t seem flustered by Malkin’s guarantee
—Kucherov continues to be clutch for the Bolts this postseason
—Marc-Andre Fleury: ‘I should have been better’ in Game 5